Our Founders

Global Mamas was founded in 2003 by six Ghanaian women who were passionate about using their talents as batikers and seamstresses to earn a steady income to support their families. They were supported by two women from North America who were passionate about seeing Ghanaian women grow their businesses. Click on the photos to read our Founder's stories (see below for Renae Adam and Kristin Johnson).

 

Global Mamas Founder Alice Korsah  Global Mamas Founder Elizabeth Ampiah  Global Mamas Founder Emma Myers  Global Mamas Founder Esther Gyiepi Garbah  Global Mamas Founder Florence Thopmson  Global Mamas Founder Hannah Dodoo 


 

Renae Adam & Kristin Johnson (as told by Kristin)
Renae and I first met Alice, Elizabeth, Emma, Esther, Hannah, and Florence over 20 years ago while serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Ghana. At 21 years old, armed with our college degrees in business, we set off to Ghana from the Midwest to change the world. Even with such similar backgrounds, Renae and I were unlikely friends. Once in Ghana Renae wanted a very rural post and I was hoping for a more urban assignment. Renae brought the fewest comforts from home while I exceeded the luggage allowance. Renae was voted most likely to succeed at her post in Ghana and I was voted most likely to go home early. Fate located us together – me in Cape Coast and Renae in a very small fishing village just outside of town. We were assigned to women’s economic development projects and during Renae’s visits to town we quickly found that we shared similar values, a passion for business, an excitement for each other’s projects and the ability to make our individual ideas stronger by working together.


We both fell in love with Ghana and lived in daily awe of the Ghanaian women with whom we worked. These women worked tirelessly each day to run their businesses then returned home at night to take care of their children and their homes without the help of frozen dinners, microwaves or washing machines. In Renae’s village the women didn’t even have electricity or running water! These women earned our admiration and we dedicated our three years in Ghana to projects that would make their lives easier – like setting up a women’s based credit union and building a water pipeline to Renae’s village (both of which are still operating today).

 

Renae and I returned to the US in 1995. We went back to school and got MBA’s and jobs, all along spending our time trying to figure out how to get back to Ghana. Renae worked as a business and IT project manager at IIS in Arizona and I consulted to women business owners at the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago. We returned to Ghana several times for visits, but it was never long enough.

 

Finally, in 2003, Renae decided to stop talking about it, packed her bags and moved back to Ghana to start Women in Progress (the original name of Global Mamas). Since the beginning Renae has been instrumental in partnering with our founding Mamas to start and grow the organization. She still resides in Ghana with her husband Dave, their two children Ben and Sam(antha). I have been left behind in the US with my husband Phil and my son Ethan. I spend my days counting down to my annual trip to Ghana and expanding sales of Global Mamas products.

 

The women of Ghana inspire us every day. Looking back over 20 years now and imagining ourselves moving to Africa as Peace Corp volunteers hoping to make a difference, we are instead so grateful for what we gained. We learned the true meaning of hospitality and kindness. We’ve learned how to appreciate each day and not to let the hard times drag our spirits down (or at least not for long). With these gifts, we’ve built the foundation for life-long careers that we absolutely love. As we reminisce about our journey, we feel fortunate to be a part of this network of talented businesswomen who are driven to pay it forward to other women, their families, extended families, and their communities. We might have been there in the beginning, but Global Mamas would not exist without our Mamas, our dedicated volunteers, gracious donors and loyal retail partners.

CC